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Saturday August 30th 2014

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There May Be More Wildlife Affected Than BP Will Admit


New Release: People Protecting Animals & Their Habitats – PATH Inc. – is calling on British Petroleum and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release additional information on the effects to wildlife and wildlife habitats of the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.

On May 10, Associated Press ran a story that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released two birds (one pelican and one northern gannet) at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Vero Beach on the Atlantic coast. Both birds had been oiled and recovered in the gulf and then treated at the bird rehabilitation facility at Fort Jackson, Louisiana. U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service veterinarian Sharon Taylor stated that only 10 dead birds have
been found dead from the oil, and that three others that were found alive and are still in
rehabilitation, bringing the total number of birds affected by the April 20 disaster – which has now spilled over 4 million gallon of oil into the gulf and surrounding animal habitats – to just 15. (which according to Congressman Miller has already been skimmed up, right?)

The A.P article stated that “boats and helicopters have been scouring the Gulf for more oiled birds since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, spewing oil from the site about 45 miles off the coast of Venice.”

Late last week, several national wildlife refuges were closed to the public after oil tracking
confirmed the areas had been affected by the spill. Among the refuges closed was Breton
National Wildlife Refuge, where approximately 2,000 birds nest this time of year.

PATH’s Executive Director, Kelly Overton, told Our Hen House (www.ourhenhouse.org) that the numbers announced and the actions taken simply don’t add up. “I find it impossible to believe that over a three week period, approximately 4 million gallons of oil has been pouring into the
gulf 45 miles away from one of the nation’s most treasured wildlife refuges – and only 15
animals have been affected.” Overton continued, “There has been no mention of the number of turtles, marine mammals, fish and other wildlife being treated or discovered dead.”

Overton, who has completed BP’s mandatory 3 module training for previously certified wildlife volunteers, and who holds a MPH in Disaster Management from Tulane, an MPA from Harvard and a Conservation Biology Graduate Certificate from Columbia University, was turned away from the Fort Jackson rehab facility by security.

“I was amazed,” Overton said. “I drove up to donate some supplies, like Pepto-Bismol, Dawn detergent, heating pads, and snacks for the workers. There were security personnel at the gate as well as in a boat by a water entrance. I had no motive other than drop supplies, but security wouldn’t accept the donation. In fact, they got in a car and followed me out to the main road.”

Upon hearing about the oil spill, Overton packed up and headed from his home in New York
City – where he runs his non-profit, PATH – to the Gulf Coast.

Word quickly spread about PATH’s rescue efforts, and support came in from far and wide. PATH teamed up with animal advocacy organization, Our Hen House, who has been closely following Overton’s travels. PATH has established drop off centers for needed supplies in both New York City (www.mooshoes.com) and Portland, Oregon (www.foodfightgrocery.com).

Donated supplies are being sorted and stored at a location in Pensacola, FL., and will be used to treat animals affected from the tragedy and to distribute to local sanctuaries and grassroots groups that are helping affected animals in their communities.

Overton is concerned that there is wildlife not being found and treated. He is also concerned that BP has not mobilized volunteers for a massive wildlife rescue that may be necessary when the oil does hit shore.

“There are people ready, willing and able to assist in this rescue. I think this should be a public process, not a corporate-led process.”

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